Pharmaceutical vs Herbal

Chemical drugs, or pharmaceutical drugs, have been around for centuries. However, the industrial production of medicine as we know it has only been around since about the mid-1800s. Plants, bushes, flowers, and trees have been around since the beginning of time.

Before the industrialization of medicines, the only medicines available were herbals and many drugs were formulated with an herbal base. In fact, the first pharmaceutical drugs were derived from herbs, plants, roots, vines, and fungi. It's the other ingredients added that make their value and safety questionable. Pharmaceutical drugs are actually the "alternative" medicine.

Some pharmaceutical drugs offer tremendous benefits, often with minimal side effects. However, there are too many that wreak havoc in the body, requiring more and more prescriptions to reduce side effects.

Conventional vs Naturopathic

It's important to understand the difference between conventional, allopathic medicine practitioners (like your primary care doctor or specialist) and natural medicine practitioners (like functional medicine physicians, naturopathic physicians, or holistic health practitioners like me). defines allopathic medicine like this:

A system in which medical doctors and other healthcare professionals (such as nurses, pharmacists, and therapists) treat symptoms and diseases using drugs, radiation, or surgery. Also called biomedicine, conventional medicine, mainstream medicine, orthodox medicine, and Western medicine.

Conventional medicine uses symptoms to identify an illness. They develop a treatment plan and, often, use pharmaceutical drugs to lessen the symptoms. Allopathic medicine believes no symptoms, no disease.

Natural medicine, also known as naturopathy, is a distinct primary health care system that blends modern scientific knowledge with traditional and natural forms of medicine. The naturopathic philosophy is to stimulate the healing power of the body and treat the underlying cause of disease.

Symptoms of disease are seen as warning signals of improper functioning of the body, and unfavorable lifestyle habits. Naturopathic medicine emphasizes disease as a process rather than as an entity. It is the goal of the natural health practitioner to restore the natural functioning of the body by addressing the cause rather than masking the symptoms.

In my practice, the first things we will address are the foundations for optimal health: nutrition, hydration, elimination, sleep, exercise, and stress level. Most health problems can be improved by addressing these areas. If my client is under the care of a physician or if the client is in a severe health crisis, I will always refer them back to their doctor. The medical practitioner and the naturopathic practitioner are on the same team.

Let's Compare

I do NOT believe pharmaceuticals and herbals are on the same team. I will always promote natural products, provided on earth by our Creator from the beginning of time, over products created in a lab. My first choice will always be in the form of food, then herbal teas, tinctures, supplements, etc. If people were healed by flowers, plants, trees, bushes, and fungi for thousands of years, and the human race has survived, then I can't help but believe they'll continue to work for us.



Ibuprofen is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug. It works by reducing hormones that cause inflammation. It's used to ease pain and reduce fevers.


  • Can increase risk of fatal heart or stroke

  • May cause stomach or intestinal bleeding, which can be fatal

Side Effects

  • Allergic reaction (hives, difficulty breathing, face swelling)

  • Severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning eyes, skin pain and rash)

  • Heart attack

  • Stroke

  • Changes in vision

  • Shortness of breath

  • Swelling or rapid weight gain

  • Skin rash

  • Signs of stomach bleeding

  • Liver problems

  • Anemia

  • Kidney problems

  • Nausea/vomiting

  • Bleeding

  • Dizziness/headache

Drug Interactions

  • Lithium

  • Cyclosporine

  • Methotrexate

  • Blood thinners

  • Heart or blood pressure medicines

  • Diuretics

  • Steroids such as prednisone


Pau D'arco

Pau d'arco comes from an evergreen tree with rose-colored flowers and extremely hard wood. The bark and the wood are medicinal and are used for:

  • Arthritis

  • Pain

  • Inflammation of the prostate gland

  • Fever

  • Dysentery

  • Boils

  • Ulcers

  • Variety of cancers

Pau D'arco tea has been shown to naturally reduce pain in cancer patients and patients with arthritic pain. Studies have shown it reduces the sensory processes that provide the signals that lead to pain.


  • Can delay clotting and might interfere with treatment in people with bleeding disorders

  • Not enough information available to know if this is safe for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding

  • May increase chances of bleeding during and after surgery

Side Effects (when consumed in high doses)

  • Nausea

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhea

  • Internal bleeding

  • Increased bruising

Drug Interactions

Anticoagulant drugs

Antiplatelet drugs

In this comparison, the risks of Ibuprofen outweigh the benefits. In Pau d'arco, the benefits outweigh the risks and address more than fever, pain, and inflammation. Other benefits of this herbal are:

  • High in selenium

  • Detoxifies the body

  • Antiviral and antifungal

  • Fights cancer

  • Helps treat ulcers

  • Fights candida

  • High in antioxidants

Because pharmaceuticals mask symptoms, when the medicine is stopped, the symptoms often return. Herbals in general do more than reduce symptoms. They enhance our body's natural healing abilities to bring balance to areas in chaos.

“Nature is doing her best each moment to make us well. Why nature is but another name for health.” -Henry David Thoreau

Never stop prescription medicines without first consulting your doctor.

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